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Harsha or Harshavardhana (606-648) was an Indian emperor who ruled northern India as paramount monarch for over forty years. The events of his reign are related by Hsuan Tsang, the Chinese pilgrim, and by Bana .
He was the son of a king of Thanesar , who gained prominence by successful wars against the Huns, and came to the throne in 606, even though he was only crowned in 622. He devoted himself to a scheme of conquering the whole of India, and carried on wars for thirty years with success, until 620 when he was defeated by Pulakesin II , the greatest emperor of the Chalukya dynasty, who ruled over southern India as he had ruled northern India. The Narmada river formed the boundary between the two empires. In the latter years of his reign, Harsha's sway over the whole basin of the Ganges from the Himalayas to the Narmada river was undisputed.
After thirty-seven years of war he set himself to emulate Asoka (i.e., following Buddhism, etc.) and became a patron of art and literature. He was the last native monarch who held paramount power in the north prior to the Muslim conquest; and was succeeded by an era of petty states.
See Bana, Sri-harsha-charita, trans. Cowell and Thomas (1897); Ettinghausen, Harsha Vardhana (Louvain, 1906).
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